18 May, 2004@12:00 am
Given the success of Blackalicious, it wouldn’t seem too farfetched for Gift of Gab to expand and see what he could accomplish as a solo artist. Gift of Gab may easily be one of the most underrated lyricists in the past decade. His delivery and breath control may be unmatched in hip-hop today. Understated? Yes! But given the opportunity to delve into the depths of expansion and Gab should be able to turn more than a few heads with his first official solo offering Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up.
From the outset, Gab proceeds to sear eardrums with his preposterous rhyme scheme on “The Ride Of Your Life”. His breath control and delivery come off so ridiculous that the concept of manhandling this joint without punching in is rather asinine. But with a closer listen you realize that he is truly manipulating the beat. The same can be said for “Evolution”, where Gab’s verbal cadences easily blend with the smooth production. At times the combination is so smooth that one can argue that his rhymes liquefy into the beat traveling through the eardrums in unison. Anybody who’s listened to a Blackalicious album knows already how at ease Gab is with the subject of the ladies. “To Know You” is no exception to the rule as the silky production glides across your speakers. Gab dips in between the splattering snares with romancing rhymes as only Gab can do best. Probably the best throwback to the old school since Ahmad’s “Back in the Day” comes in the form of “Flashback”. Bounding pianos and subtle strings accompany Gab’s recollection of any and everything associated with his generation of growing up. As Gab spits “Welcome back to box cuts and shags/Jheri curl activator rocking the plastic bag/with a hat on the top/when niggas started to sag and gangbang/even if you didn’t you had to claim..” a sense of nostalgia may come over even the hardest of hard rocks. Lost in Gift of Gab’s nutty flow may be the concepts that come out of these joints. Songs like “Moonshine” (the anti-alcohol ode) and “In a Minute Doe” (dedicated to his nephew doing time) tend to get lost in the shuffle because of how effortless Gab rifles off his rhymes. But after multiple listens these songs become another set of jewels altogether.
On the rise producers Jake One and Vitamin D deliver some more than exceptional production for Gab to utilize to his advantage. The album possesses a certain flow which may be deemed unattainable for many artists of this day and age. As Gab shifts gears from subject to subject the flow of the album never falls to the wayside. Even the one minute instrumental “Hold On’ presents itself at the appropriate time, delivering a well timed break before the album continues its journey into the funkdafied atmosphere.
As solid as Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up may be, it isn’t without its faults. The terrible hook of “The Writz” is excusable after grasping Gab’s once again infections flow. After all is said and done, Gift of Gab may have come with the sleeper album of the year. An incredibly refreshing album from 1/2 of Blackalicious proves to be just the proper dose of dopeness needed in a time where albums tread the same monotonous themes. Hopefully at the end of the slick 46 minute offering fools will stop sleeping and give Gift of Gab the credit he deserves.
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